Steve Jobs, along with Steve Wozniak, were the men who started Apple computer in 1976. They were legendary in the South Bay area, where I spent much of my young adulthood. On Sundays, in the Santa Cruz mountains, in the late seventies and early eighties, Steve Wozniak would drive his motorcycle alongside me and my training partners as we would do our 20 milers from our coach, Dan Durante’s home. Woz would stay with us for a bit, talk to my coach, and then, head off to grab his Sunday paper. Apple was part of the amazing creativity that abounded in the Silicon Valley in that time. The cult of personality has abounded in the Valley, as most of the great computer companies, software companies and chip companies are located in the Silicon Valley. I must admit that the plethora of creatives, management shamans and such at Apple did make a lot of copy. In the end, the little Apple computer company focused on high end, well designed computer platforms and devices to store and play music, and finally, amazingly cool phones. Apple=creativity, in many people’s minds.
Much of this, for much of the existence of Apple, has been encouraged, cajoled, demanded and supported by Steve Jobs. Jobs was notorious, in his early years for working his team to the bone. He was arrogant, proud, and he was Apple.
Steve Jobs was pushed out of Apple in 1986, and returned a decade later. Jobs saved Apple, helping the company focus on high design, great service, in both their computers but also their communications devices. The Iphone (which I have had for two years) gave the world a communications device with 1000 times more powerful than my first Apple SE, dating back from 1986. I remember carrying a sixteen pound early Apple lap top through airports in 1989, fascinated that I had a computer that had 16 megs of memory!
Steve Jobs had a bout with pancreatic cancer in 2004, and recovered. In 2006, Steve Jobs and Mark Parker of Nike, jointly introduced Nikerunning.com. NIkerunning.com used Apple design, technology and fused it with Nike footwear to develop a social network for running and fuse music with fitness. Jobs, a runner himself, gave the Ipod another wonderfully creative use-music for fitness and a sophisticated way to keep track of one’s running. That nikerunning.com combined two of America’s most iconic, creative and marketing driven companies was not missed either.
Steve Jobs has more creativity in his left hand than most countries. The mature Steve Jobs is still a man with a mission. And in Silicon Valley, that means, if the guy belched wrong, the Mercury News would write about how Apple could be affected. Jobs has seen his personal health as his personal information, but, unfortunately, stock holders just do not get that. As Sun Microsystems’ Scott McNealy said a decade ago, ” Privacy no longer exists.” Welcome to the monkey house, as Kurt Vonnegut might say.
Last spring, Steve Jobs took a break from Apple, promising to return. Rumors abounded. Now, in a story on the BBC.com site, quoting a story from the Wall Street Journal, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8110625.stm, it was revealed that Steve Jobs had a liver transplant two months ago, and is expecting to return to work part time at first, to Apple over the next few months.
As someone who has NEVER, in 25 years, owned a non-Apple computer, Steve Jobs’ return to Apple is a good thing. I have not only bought into the Apple mystique, I drink the cool-aid. For design, for magazines, for websites, Apple, in my mind, still rules. Jobs move to music, communication tools, Ipods, Iphones, Iaps is the future. Apple has changed the way we communicate.
Six months ago, I went to an Apple store for the first time. My Macbook had crashed, and we were on deadline with four magazines. Starbuck’s iced americanos were not helping clear my head, so I went to the Apple store in Madison, Wisconsin with no appointment and asked for help. Within four hours, the Apple team had replaced my hard drive and screen, saved my files and had me on the road, back to publishing reality. The service and the enthusiasm were infectious.
As these tools continue to bring running to a new audience, either with nikerunning.com or the ability to keep track of new track meets, new sports blogs and tweets, Apple continues to affect our sport, for the good.
We wish Steve Jobs a speedy recovery.
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